In the last year of his life, Mozart wrote yearningly to Constanze: "I can't describe what I have been feeling - a kind of emptiness, which hurts me dreadfully - a kind of longing, which is never satisfied, which never ceases, and which persists, nay rather increases daily. . . . Even my work gives me no pleasure, because I am accustomed to stop working now and then and exchange a few words with you. Alas! this is no longer possible. If I go to the piano and sing something out of my opera, I have to stop at once, for this stirs my emotions too deeply. Enough!"
There is a dictum that one should never read biographical circumstances into the works of Mozart but if one were to make an exception, it would be K 570. It was written at an arduous time in the composer's life when he was cash-strapped and apartment-hopping to save money. In the year or so prior to its composition, Death had snatched away his father, his daughter Theresia and his great friend Dr Sigmund Barisani who had saved his life twice. K 570 has never been one of the popular piano sonatas. At first glance it is cold. Its most salient feature is the slow movement. While no-one has championed Einstein's theory that it originated as a sketch for a piano concerto, that's an indication of its stature. It is a great, Hamlet-like soliloquy with silence. At any given point, one feels as if Mozart himself will grind to a halt, such be the oppression. And yet he continues to traverse his own Via Crucis to the final station. In the finale, "the heart dances but not from joy."
Here it receives its ultimate performance. Utterly removed from the glamour and coughing of the concert hall, Uchida stretches out the Adagio to over nine minutes: one almost forgets to breath. Yes, one can acquire K 570 (and the wonderful Durnitz Sonata, K 284) as part of the complete cycle but the Japanese pianist is not the last word in many of the sonatas Mozart: The Piano Sonatas [Box Set].
As with all of these single issues, it is a joy to behold Mitsuko in her array of frilly dresses from the Eighties; nowadays, with good reason, she prefers skivvies.